Half of Denver Airbnb landlords now complying with new rules

Fifty percent of Denver’s short-term renters on sites like Airbnb have registered business licenses.

The glass is either half full or half empty for Denver’s new efforts to license and tax short-term landlords. Three months into the year, half of the property owners in the city have snagged a mandatory business license.

As of Wednesday, the city issued 1,362 licenses to landlords that list a bedroom or house on websites like Airbnb, according to city data. Denver has tallied 2,699 short-term rental properties within city limits – a 50 percent success rate in the first quarter since the licensing requirement went live on Jan. 1.

“It’s phenomenal compliance rate at this stage,” city Spokesman Dan Rowland said in an email. “We’ll keep pushing.”

The city already has urged short-term landlords to get a license, hiring a vendor called Host Compliance to help identify rental addresses, so that the city can notify them about the law and, if need be, fine them.

To date, Denver has sent out 1,087 violation notices, according to data provided by the city. Of that pool, 700 properties removed their listing, and 245 ponied up for the license.

Following a notice of violation, landlords that don’t comply will face fines starting at $150 for a first offense, and up to $1,000 for the third.

Host Compliance has identified 1,986 short-term rentals by address, about 73 percent of all short-term rentals in the city, according to city data.

Denver has followed the lead of municipalities around the country eager to regulate the nascent short-term rental market, which has mushroomed with the popularity of websites like Airbnb and VRBO. Last summer, Denver City Council passed a bill that limited short-term rentals to “primary residences,” required landlords to get a business license and levied a 10.75 percent lodging tax.

Denver landlords dragged their feet in the months before the law went into effect. Fewer than 100 properties had registered between July 1 and Oct. 28, eight weeks before the law was set to kick in. By the end of January, that number had rocketed up to 780 licenses.

The 50 percent compliance rate also is good news for the city’s coffers. So far, the rentals have remitted $57,530 in lodging tax for January and February sales, according to data from the Department of Finance.

Taxes on March sales, for frequent landlords that must file taxes once a month, and first quarter sales, for those who file quarterly, are due April 20.

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Michael Grimland
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Good article, well written. While I’m glad to hear there is an effort to impose a certain amount of regulation on short-term rentals; we as a community need to take a look at not only whether or not these rentals should be allowed, but also, how they are insured. Too many insurance policies out there do not cover short term renting. Meaning there is no liability coverage in place when someone sues the homeowner. This gets passed on to the community and leads to problems. There needs to be regulation requiring at least $500,000 of liability coverage. Smart insurance companies… Read more »